Senate Week in Review: March 29 – April 2

SPRINGFIELD – State legislative leaders took a stand this week against Illinois’ longstanding history of gerrymandering, arguing that lawmakers have no business being involved in the drawing of legislative district boundaries.

State Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy) says Senate and House Republican legislative leaders came together March 30 to introduce the People’s Independent Maps Act, a proposal to allow Illinois’ legislative redistricting maps to be determined by an Independent Redistricting Commission.

In other action, Senate Republicans are recognizing Autism Awareness Day, and kicking off a Preposterous Proposals series that highlights questionable legislation pending in the General Assembly.

People’s Independent Maps Act

Tracy says the state’s current system of drawing legislative maps gives current officeholders the power to draw district lines, allowing partisan politics to influence the final map outcome and stifle voters.

Over the years, Senate Republicans have strongly advocated for creating a system that would allow legislators to recuse themselves from the map-drawing process all together. Polls show that more than 75 percent of Illinois voters also support an independent process that puts citizens, instead of politicians, in control of drawing election districts.

The People’s Independent Maps Act is the Republican lawmakers’ most recent push to put an end to Illinois’ broken redistricting system. The proposal would give the Supreme Court the power to appoint 16 independent, citizen commissioners to the Independent Redistricting Commission within 30 days of becoming law. The makeup of the Commission would be required to reflect the ethnic, gender and racial demographics of the state. Party affiliation would be evenly split, in addition to members without party affiliation. Legislators, state employees and lobbyists are prohibited from serving on the Commission.

The Commission would be required to hold at least 10 public hearings throughout the state before adopting a plan, with at least four hearings after a map is proposed. The Commission will release a map within 30 days of receipt of the census redistricting data. This legislation would only apply to the 2021 redistricting cycle.

Identical legislation has been proposed in previous years, garnering bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House. Illinoisans wanting to support an Independent Redistricting Commission can sign Tracy’s petition at https://senatorjiltracy.com/News/1556/Sign-my-petition-for-fair-maps/news-detail/.

Autism Awareness Day

April 2 marks the 14th annual World Autism Awareness Day, bringing attention to those with autism, encouraging research, and promoting wellness and inclusion.

According to the Autism Speaks organization, autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a complex developmental disability with a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. There is no cure for autism spectrum disorders.

The Centers for Disease Control notes that diagnosing ASD can be difficult as there is no explicit medical test, such as a blood test, to diagnose the disorders. It is diagnosed based on someone’s developmental history. Autism can be detected as early 18 months, but some cases may not be diagnosed until adulthood.

Approximately one in 59 children are diagnosed with ASD, with the diagnosis being more prevalent in boys than girls.

Preposterous Proposals at the Capitol

Thousands of new bills are filed every year by lawmakers in Springfield. Some of them feature popular, widely accepted ideas to make the state better, while others seem a little more out of left field.

Every week, the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus is highlighting legislation that is outlandish, not very well thought out, or just plain bad for the people of Illinois.

The Caucus’ first Preposterous Proposal is:

  • Senate Bill 571: Would ban alcohol purchases at self-checkout registers. Currently, stores with self-checkouts require a staff member to check a customer’s ID before the system will let the purchase process move forward, so it’s not clear what would be gained by requiring customers to wait in line for one of the few checkouts with an employee ringing up the items.

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